The Leadership Journey – Letters to an Intern

#2 – Whom Will I Please?

Early in your leadership journey you will need to answer a very important, foundation question: Whom will I please? Called by God to be a spiritual leader, the answer should be easy. Of course you would want to please the one who called you and placed you in leadership. However, the question will have to be answered many times on your leadership journey with the pressures becoming stronger – even from familiar voices.

During a very corrupt time in human history God called Noah to lead. The Scriptures remind us that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8)

God told Noah to build an ark that could survive a flood, saving him and his family. He believed God and built it in reverent fear. I can only imagine the pressure and ridicule he faced at the hands of an unbelieving world. And yet Noah, determined to please God, did all that God commanded him.

Every spiritual leader in biblical history, through to today, faced pressure to please the crowds, the culture, a person or a congregation. You may ask, “Is it possible to please both God and man?” Yes – at times. But when a choice has to be made – you must choose God!

Ryan, there will be pressure to change the message of the gospel. You will hear, “Soften it to become more palatable to our culture.” “Change your views, you are out of touch.” “The Bible may have been good for a people a long time ago – not today.” The apostle Paul addressed the false teachers who had changed the gospel with extremely strong words in Galatians 1 and he closed that section with personal words of clear commitment: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

Your commitment to please God does not mean that you will not have to be accountable to the authorities God has placed over you. Too many young men have declared they are accountable only to God and not their boss, a church board or a congregation.

Ryan, ultimately you will stand before Jesus to give an account as a spiritual leader (James 3). I pray that early on in your leadership journey you will make the unwavering commitment to please Christ. I pray that commitment will be reaffirmed countless times on the journey. In the face of potential job loss, departure of friends, persecution, ridicule, standing alone or even death, your steadfast words will echo the apostles’ (Acts 5:29): “We must obey God rather than men.”

If you do this, I promise the leadership journey may not always be easy, but it will be right and you will be used of God to make a difference. And one day you may hear those words from the one who called, “Well done Ryan!”